High Performing Investment Teams: How to Achieve Best Practices of Top Firmsby Jim Ware, Jim Dethmer, Jamie Ziegler, Fran Skinner
High Performing Investment Teams shows you how today's leading investment firms create "positive/high energy" at each level, increasing the decision-making skills of their employees while dramatically reducing the politics, bureaucracy, and hand-wringing that breed only negativity and failure. Written by a team of today's leading authorities on investment industry… See more details below
High Performing Investment Teams shows you how today's leading investment firms create "positive/high energy" at each level, increasing the decision-making skills of their employees while dramatically reducing the politics, bureaucracy, and hand-wringing that breed only negativity and failure. Written by a team of today's leading authorities on investment industry leadership, culture, and teambuilding, this results-focused book explores the seven behaviors evident in some form in virtually every top performing organization and provides you with hands-on actions you can take to rebuild your organization around those behaviors.
Those behaviors include:
- CuriosityKnowing when you are becoming defensive and shifting back to an open and receptive attitude of learning
- AccountabilityTaking 100 percent responsibility for the results created as opposed to expending energy searching for scapegoats
- CandorEngaging in courageous truth-telling to increase power and speed in decision making
- AuthenticityDiscarding facades, then addressing actual conflicts to eliminate needless intrigue
- AwarenessUnderstanding, and tapping into, every emotional and intuitional resource for decision making
- GeniusDiscovering and allowing people to do what they do best, thereby leveraging their natural areas of genius
- AppreciationExpressing gratitude and fostering an across-the-board culture of sincere cooperation
While decades of research into psychology and organizational development have identified dozens of factors that contribute to organizational excellence, it is these seven behaviors that are consistently demonstrated in top performing culturesand, conversely, are often absent or disregarded in struggling firms. Adopt at least some of them, and your long-term opportunities will expand and grow exponentially.
Ignore them? Your results will be just as striking, and more than likely permanent.
All of the innovative theorems and approaches in the world will do little to support an unhealthy internal culture. High Performing Investment Teams shows you what you must do now to build success in your firm by first improving the fundamentals that make up its most important assetsits employees.
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"During the ’90s, Forrest Gump could have managed a successful investment firm," Mr. Ware told the assembled CFAs. One wag in the audience responded: "He did!"
Mr. Ware relates this story and others in "High Performing Investment Teams: How to Achieve Best Practices of Top Firms" (John Wiley & Sons, New York, 210 pages). Co-written with Jim Dethmer, also a principal at Focus, the book discusses how a money manager can build a lasting and successful culture that relies on teamwork. Their previous book, "Investment Leadership," dealt with how top management can build a strong culture.
Mr. Ware writes that CEOs no longer quiz Focus professionals on why they should worry about soft issues: "Even the thickest-skinned, toughest-minded investment leader understands that the so-called soft skills are critical in attracting, retaining, and motivating talent."
Focus’ client list includes leading investment institutions such as UBS Global Asset Management, Northern Trust Global Investments and Analytic Investors Inc.
It’s no mean trick guiding investment professionals, which Mr. Ware likened to herding cats in a recent conversation.
In the new book, Mr. Ware cites Chris Argyris, a Harvard Business School professor, on why it’s hard to manage smart people. Because many professionals rarely fail, they don’t know how to learn from the experience.
"Instead, they become defensive, screen out criticism, and put the ‘blame’ on anyone and everyone but themselves," Mr. Argyris wrote in a famous 1991 Harvard Business Review article quoted in the book.
Members of high-performing investment teams recognize when they’re being defensive, and choose to return to more open attitudes, Mr. Ware wrote. Changing that defensive behavior is tough, but simple things such as moving around, deep breathing and listening carefully to others can shift the mood, he explained.
Many of Messrs. Ware’s and Dethmer’s guidelines boil down to lessons that may appear naive. That’s because open-mindedness and candor and praising others can be very tough standards to live by.
Here’s their advice in a nutshell:
• Be curious. Be open to learning from mistakes.
• Take 100% responsibility — no more, no less — for your actions. Don’t play the victim or the hero. Firms that don’t waste time finger-pointing are more nimble and creative.
• Make agreements only that you want to make and for things over which you have control. What’s more, write them down.
• Be candid. That includes separating fact from fiction, which yields superior analysis.
• Eliminate corporate drama, which siphons away energy and creativity.
• Use your intuition as well as your intelligence.
• Focus your and your staff’s efforts on their natural strengths, instead of spending countless hours trying to improve their weaknesses.
• Appreciate and praise your staff. Research shows that, in the most successful firms, positive feedback outweighs the negative by a ratio of 5-to-1.
Reducing Messrs. Ware’s and Dethmer’s lessons to bullet points does them a grave injustice. That’s because so much of their message has to do with the process of how people deal with conflict and with each other.
So stop the finger-pointing, the cringing, the over-the-top heroics. Read their book.
By Joel Chernoff, Pensions & Investments
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